In This Review

American Power and Liberal Order: A Conservative Internationalist Grand Strategy
American Power and Liberal Order: A Conservative Internationalist Grand Strategy
By Paul D. Miller
Georgetown University Press, 2016, 336 pp.

Miller builds on the work of the political scientist Henry Nau to advance an alternative to liberal internationalism and realism, the two dominant strands of thought in American foreign policy. “Conservative internationalism” holds that a flexible and pragmatic pursuit of a liberal world order remains the best choice for Washington, even though the Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama administrations all pursued that agenda without the necessary prudence and discretion. Miller stresses the importance of prioritizing: not all causes and not all regions are of equal importance to U.S. foreign policy. Africa, he argues, has historically been “the least important region strategically to the United States,” and “its relative unimportance to the United States remains the same.” As a burgeoning supply of unconventional hydrocarbons makes Middle East oil less globally important, Miller says, the United States should “repudiate the Carter Doctrine,” the commitment that President Jimmy Carter made in 1980 to ensure the security of the Persian Gulf’s monarchies. Neoconservatism has lost whatever appeal it once had to many voters, so Miller’s vision of conservative internationalism might get a hearing. But to judge from Donald Trump’s victory in the U.S. presidential election, it may be conservative nationalists who now have the upper hand on the political right.